Broken Bells - Broken Bells
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 73 Ratings

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  • Summary: This is the debut album for The Shins James Mercer and producer Brian Burton (aka as Danger Mouse).
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. What makes Broken Bells such a compelling body of work is undeniably the result of the broad range of sounds that fill its palette. Although there are instances whereby each of the two conspirators come to the forefront, at no point does this sound like a Shins record with beats or a hip hop record with guitars.
  2. Mercer's knack for twisting and turning melodies is impeccably served by Burton, who tempers and fulfills those melodies with laid-back but elaborate scores of synth, piano, organ and sometimes a full string section, the only instruments not played by Burton or Mercer.
  3. Mercer's gently off-beam pop songs are lit up colourfully by the duo's choice of arrangements.
  4. The album's dominant themes spread themselves thin in places, such as the bland, punchless stretch around the record's middle mark. When Mercer and Burton are on point though, it works, and works well.
  5. Despite the scrappy rhythm guitar of album closer "The Mall & Misery," this project rarely resembles a rock band. It does, however, really feel like a group.
  6. 60
    "high Road" is melodic enough, for sure, and Mercer is a clear-voiced singer, but the album's interest palls when Mouse's answer to life, the universe and everything proves to be "pedestrian breakbeat." [Apr 2010, p.83]
  7. Individually, both men are astounding talents, but beyond a few solid tracks, the alchemy's just not there.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Feb 9, 2014
    Beautifully varied music. The combination of the Danger Mouse groove and Mercer's voice makes for a perfect album. Some songs are chilling and others are amazingly catchy. It's perfect. Expand
  2. Sep 25, 2013
    Broken Bells' self-titled first release drags you in with singles like "The High Road" and "The Ghost Inside" but keeps you around after multiple listens with a very strong B side starting with Trap Doors. James Mercer strays from the Shins to create something very different with Danger Mouse. James does a spectacular job with the vocal melodies and arrangements. This album has no weak songs and can be and should be listened to straight through, great to spin. Expand
  3. Dec 6, 2013
    This is much better than the score suggests. Innovative, catchy, haunting. An excellent debut from Mercer and Burton. These two have an incredible chemistry. Mercer's brilliant melodies and Burton's grooves matched together is nirvana. Expand
  4. Sep 19, 2012
    Broken Bells is an album born from the collaboration of The Shins
  5. Mar 2, 2011
    Broken Bells does take a few listens to actually get into but once you get into it, it's a really good record. James Mercer's dark voice mixes so perfectly well with Brian Burton's producing talent and the result is a dark, unique, well written album. All In All, Broken Bells is something different and also very creative and unique. I recommend. B+ Expand
  6. Jul 25, 2011
    From the first thirty seconds of the premier track, High Road you know that you're in for a treat. Mercer's twisted vocals against the backdrop that is Burton's excellent production, takes you by the hand and guides you on a humble journey through 21st century alternative indie. The steady rhythm mimics a racing heart that punctuates every line with a smile. Perhaps the synths are too heavy, but not enough to deter from repeat listens.
    Each track flows well into one another, maintaining Mercer and Burtonâ

See all 11 User Reviews